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Mega ratepayer group combats 'secrecy'

LIZ WILLIS
Last updated 16:08 21/11/2012

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Intensive housing fears and rising rates are key concerns of a new lobby group formed from ratepayer groups across Auckland.

About 20 ratepayer groups were represented at the meeting that created the Auckland Region Ratepayers Group as a new voice for residents.

North Shore ratepayer groups from Castor Bay, Milford and Northcote attended along with Glenfield's David Thornton from national campaign group No More Rates.

Auckland residents feel they haven't got a voice under the new super-city and the group plans to lobby council on their behalf, says Laurie Slee, from Cockle Bay Residents and Ratepayers.

Mr Slee, who co-chaired the regional ratepayers meeting, says people feel frustrated council is ''ticking the boxes'' during consultation but not listening.

He hopes a powerful regional ratepayer group will have ''more clout''.

Auckland Council's intensification proposals under its Unitary Plan and big rates rises were the top concerns of those at the meeting.

Fears about the impact of infill on already strained infrastructure and over-intensification of town centres and suburbs were raised.

Colin Andrews, who revealed secret Devonport-Takapuna intensification plans in the North Shore Times, was among those who attended.

Mr Andrews plans to revive the North Shore Residents and Ratepayers group that fought the Shore's controversial district plan in the 1990s.

He is pleased to see a regional group forming and says it will help raise awareness about the Unitary Plan and importance of making submissions in March.

''The primary concern is the public don't know what is going on.''

Mr Andrews says he's also concerned at increasing rates and WaterCare bills that are forcing some older residents from their homes 

David Thornton of No More Rates says many ratepayers are concerned that amalgamation of councils leads to new structures more concerned with sheer size than democratic governance.

"They point to the dis-satisfaction with the Auckland Council becoming more evident every day"

The Auckland Region Ratepayers Group hopes to meet again in the new year and appoint a chairperson and expects more groups to join.

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- North Shore Times

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